OK before i go anywhere with this i want to say that clear sky is a good game - it could be a great game if the edges weren't so rough and the bugs such monsters.
If you were a fan of the original then theres lots to like, firstly the graphics have been improved alot and now there is enhanced environmental lighting which really adds to the atmosphere - watching gun fights in the pitch black pouring rain while thunder and lightning briefly lights the spooky landscape is something to behold! - but your gonna need a beefy system to run this game maxed out.
Much of the good stuff returns, the a-life system still makes the game world as dynamic and alive as in any game, no scripted linear approach here, instead a fully explorable, living environment which feels very real. In this game things happen whether your there to witness it or not. in one instance i went to see a group of guys i met earlier in the game only to find their bodies sprawled out around their camp, amidst them the bodies of mutants they had gunned down - obviously they ahd been overrun and the echos of the battle fought were there to be seen - genius a-life system.
The game now focuses alot of attention on the various factions and their rivalries which were touched upon in the original game. this time you can join up to factions and get involved in attack and defeend missions joining squads in battles against your enemies attempting to take hard points on the map, the balance can change all the time and it for the most part feels pretty dynamic and interesting.
the story is not as strong as in the original but some of the translation and interface has been cleaned up so its a bit easier to get a grip of whats going on.
the Atmosphere is for me more or less as strong as before, the shift in focus to squad combat and human conflicts means that some for the survival horror style so many loved has been overlooked somewhat.
The big problem with this game though is the bugs - i can say i have never played a supposedly finished released product that was so badly finished before. I bought this game, patched to the latest patch and within two hours game play ahd suffered four inexplicable crash to desktops and found that i couldnt move form one area to another - the show stopping travel bug - to think such things could exist in a retail release let alone and retail release after multiple patches is criminal. On top of that there are a lot of small bugs which mess up missions for you where triggers clearly don't work and objectives cant be completed.
Crysis warhead is vastly superior from a technical standpoint to anything around and is released at 14.99 with non of the issues here at 17.99
If they wanted to release this so badly unfinished then a price of 9.99 might have made me feel more understanding and patient.
despite the infuriating technical issues and the rough edges of the game design which again stink of a rushed effort its hard for me to dislike this unique atmospheric game. It has so much atmosphere, it feels futuristic yet with so much old soviet era architecture and equipment it feels like some sort of cult Russian horror flick.
The sounds are a bit tinny in places but the blood chilling howls in the nigh are a great immersive touch.
If you liked the original you will probably like being back in the zone, unfortunately its not gonna hook anyone who didn't get the original and it also is guilty of missing a great opportunity to fore fill the potential that this imaginative, dark, moody game has.
still very good despite the failings - but stalker could have been the best ever